From Tragedy to Tribute: A Sister's Mission to Preserve her Brother's Memory

Preserving memory and celebrating life.



(Galyna Andrushko /

In the rugged beauty of southern Utah, Rebecca Fielding found herself sitting on the same ledge where her brother, Jonathan, had tragically lost his life. CNN reports on the day that Rebecca had driven 15 hours to Utah from her home in Missouri, where they had grown up together. Consumed by grief, Rebecca was in a “really dark place.” Jonathan had been her best friend, her constant source of unconditional love, and the thought of life without him was unbearable. 

As Fielding prepared to leave a journal with her final thoughts, the clouds parted and sunlight embraced her. “I felt the sun on my back, and it felt like someone was giving me a hug," she told CNN, “In that moment, things just felt the teeniest bit better, and it didn’t feel as much like the end of the world.” Fielding decided to leave the leather-bound journal and a pen with a note about her brother, explaining “what the world lost” with his passing. She also left a bag of Takis chips, a Spiderman plushie, and some tiny plastic babies — inside jokes between her and her family. She then drove back to Missouri, with no expectations for what was to come.

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Remembering a beloved brother
Jonathan Fielding had moved to Orem, Utah, six months before his death. Originally from Blue Springs, Missouri, he loved photography and exploring nature. On January 27, Jonathan and several friends were visiting Moonscape Overlook, a remote ridge east of Capitol Reef National Park. Jonathan was taking photos when a cliff he stepped on crumbled, and he fell more than 200 feet to his death. He was only 19-years-old. 

Fielding had a very close relationship with her brother Jonathan, who she describes as a wonderful person, who was humble and kind. “He was the calm one. He just understood me. I am autistic and I have a hard time communicating with people. I have a lot of weird quirks,” Fielding told People

A talented photographer, Jonathan had set up a photography website that his family only discovered after his death. There he wrote:  “Hey, I'm Jonathan. I'm a portrait and lifestyle photographer based in the Utah Valley area. I love the limitless potential that photography offers to us and am looking forward to exploring that potential with you.”

In her grief, Fielding t left a note in the journal at the site of her brother's fall, describing him as “a soul too pure for this world, a kid too fearless for his own good, a friend whose kindness knew no bounds, a son who could never disappoint, a brother whose love knew no limit." The journal soon became too weathered to survive the desert elements, so Fielding returned in April with a sturdier journal, along with an account of what had happened to her brother and a new pen. This time she added, “I love you, Bro. And thank you for loving me.”

Jonathan Fielding’s journal journey
According to CNN, two months later, hiker Sherrie Joyce Miller found the journal near Utah’s Highway 24. Recognizing Jonathan's name from the news, she realized it was something precious. Miller left her own note and returned the journal to its original location. Fielding, who had also visited Utah again in June, couldn't find the journal and left a third one with a photo album near the spot of Jonathan's death.

The April journal had been picked up and left near Highway 24 by a nomad who thought it was a random notebook. Strangers began leaving messages in the journal, turning it into a collective tribute to Jonathan. A public Facebook group, “Jonathan Fielding’s Journal Journey," was created to track the journal’s journey and encourage others to add their own entries. 

Fielding made a TikTok video on June 14 to share the entries made in the journal before Sherrie’s discovery. The video, set to Jonathan's favorite band, Lord Huron, featured touching messages from strangers. “As long as one person remembers who he was, he will never fully die,” she wrote.

Fielding’s initiative has deeply moved many, transforming her grief into a powerful tribute to her brother. Jonathan's legacy now lives on through the journal, carried by the love and kindness of strangers who have been touched by his story. For Fielding, this project has been a way to honor her brother and find a sense of connection and purpose amid her profound loss.

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